One of the problems we can encounter while performing an alignment is the re-use of old washers. Sometimes it isn’t enough to replace all the used bolts, nuts, and shims. You need to replace old washers too.

They are just as simple to replace and as inexpensive as the bolts and nuts you are also replacing. Dished washers will try to center themselves in the bolt hole of the foot and will pull your machine out of alignment, even if you are very careful in your torquing procedure. This effect is virtually impossible to overcome and at times even to detect (unless you are using the live move function on a ROTALIGN® laser alignment system), resulting in a difficult alignment to finish properly, even if you have followed every step correctly. Make sure to discard all damaged or inappropriate washers on the movable machine and replace them with thick, good quality Grade 8 new washers.

Sample Washers for Shaft Alignment
Dished/warped washer (left) and Grade 8 thick flat washers (right)

Another issue is the use of lock washers. Generally, a good flat washer under a bolt head with a good washer seat that has been correctly tightened to the proper torque does not need additional security; however, if your application requires a lock washer due to severe vibration, or because the join needs to be allowed to expand while still maintaining the required amount of axial force on the closure, then a high-quality lock washer may be the right solution. Avoid the use of cheap, one-time-use split-ring lock washers, and use a high-quality Belleville washer (a conical disc spring washer) instead. A split ring lock washer exerts 90% of its force in the first 20% of its travel range, therefore it is a very ineffective solution to the problem attempting to be solved; a Belleville washer, on the other hand, exerts 100% of its locking force over 100% of its travel range, and moreover also serves the functions of a flat washer. In addition, they can be stacked in parallel to increase the axial locking force, or in series to increase both the locking force and the travel range.

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, by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL